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Location: Virginia, United States

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Using Open-Source Information Effectively – House Subcommitte on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment - June 22


 Posted by Hello

Yesterday’s hearing on open-source information was an enjoyable and informative experience. Open-source information is unclassified info that is readily available to the public. It includes things like newspaper articles, books, television and radio. The Committee was examining the intelligence community’s ability to make use of this vast amount of information. Ultimately, it was concluded that various intelligence agencies have failed to make sufficient use of this open-source info. Though the info is available, the agencies neglect it by spending too much time analyzing classified info. Dr. John Gannon, the first witness, suggested that this situation be remedied. He also suggested that the DHS become a “full-player” in the intelligence community. This position was emphatically supported by Mr. Eliot Jardines, the second witness. Mr. Jardines advocated establishing and open-source intelligence (OSINT) network within the DHS. He also believes it is necessary that open-source intel be made more accessible for persons like Police and Fire Chiefs. I thoroughly enjoyed the testimony of these two men and subscribe to their position.
I also enjoyed the testimony of the third witness, Mr. Joe Onek, though I do not agree with some of his opinions. Mr. Onek spent time addressing the possibility of open-source intelligence being used in a way that might violate individual’s civil rights. He feared Muslim Americans might be targeted unfairly. However, Mr. Onek failed to give any grounds for his fears. He also suggested that open-source info might be used to by the government to attack political opponents. To solve these potential problems, Mr. Onek believes it is necessary to enact legislation that would prevent intelligence gathered for anti-terrorist purposes to be used elsewhere. For example, if the government is watching a suspect for potential terrorist activity and discovers that he is an illegal immigrant, it should not be able to prosecute him for this crime. To me, this solution is very problematic. Open-source information is open to the public by definition. To say that we should not be able to use this information to prosecute a criminal is, I think, ridiculous. It is my opinion that regardless of who is doing the looking or why they are looking, if someone legally obtains evidence – especially when it’s open to the public – it should be admissible in a court of law.

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